Louisville tight end Kemari Averett was charged Tuesday with first-degree wanton endangerment and fourth-degree assault. The sophomore was accused by university police of putting a gun to his girlfriend’s head and issuing a death threat.
Averett, 20, pleaded not guilty to the charges. He reportedly remains in a Louisville Metro jail and has been suspended from the team.
In a statement, Cardinals Coach Bobby Petrino said that Averett “will not have access to our facility or be involved in any team activities during this suspension,” adding, “We work hard every day to develop a culture of accountability that everyone in our program must live up to. Any conduct that does not meet these expectations will not be tolerated within the Louisville football program.”
According to the police citation (via the Louisville Courier Journal), Averett was at the unidentified woman’s residence Sunday to study, and he left his backpack there. When the woman drove to Averett’s residence to return it on Monday night, he said the backpack was missing his laptop computer, and when she denied knowing it was missing, he was said to have produced a gun.
Averett allegedly put the weapon to the left temple of the woman, who was still in her car, and said, “[Expletive], I will kill you.”
The citation said that Averett then told the woman to return to her hometown, adding, “I’ll have my people looking for you.” He was also alleged to have told a witness seated in the back of the car, “I should pistol-whip your [expletive] for running your mouth."
“Mr. Averett disagrees with the allegations as stated,” his lawyer, J.P. Ward, said Tuesday (via the AP). “We’ll look at those allegations going forward and look forward to our day in court.”
In addition to describing the woman as Averett’s girlfriend, police claimed that she was the mother of his son and that, before pulling out a gun, he had brought to her car a baby outfit and ultrasound images. However, the player “has been denying he knows [the] victim and [says] it’s not his baby,” police noted.
Averett, listed at 6-foot-6 and 267 pounds, has eight catches for 65 yards and two touchdowns in six games, including four starts, for the 2-5 Cardinals. Before arriving at Louisville, the Atlanta native spent three months in a youth detention center in 2014 after being accused of stealing a cellphone at gunpoint (per the Courier Journal), and he went on to spend nine days in Fulton County Jail for violating the terms of his bond.
Bail was set Tuesday at $10,000, and Averett is scheduled to have a hearing on Oct. 26. He was ordered to not have any contact with the woman, and to not possess or use any firearms.
“I fully support Coach Petrino in his decision to immediately suspend Kemari Averett, per further investigation,” Louisville Vice President and Director of Athletics Vince Tyra said (via WLKY). “We have high expectations for all of our student-athletes, and inappropriate conduct will absolutely not be tolerated. "
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